Welcome support is served along with great food in 'Recipe for Hope'

Guests at Saturday night's fund-raiser for cancer patients, "A Recipe for Hope," came to support a worthy cause. But they stayed for the food. And the wines. And the bands. And the camaraderie.

Martha Rial, Post-Gazette
The recipe for Coconut Lime Shrimp can be doubled, and it can be made in advance.
Click photo for larger image.

Bonny Diver-Hall, a radio announcer from Avalon who beat breast cancer 2 1/2 years ago, is a driving force behind an ongoing fund-raising effort to help cancer victims who have lost their hair during chemotherapy buy wigs. A well-fitted wig can cost nearly $200, and most insurers refuse to buy or even subsidize the purchase of a wig.

During the event, Diver-Hall's group, Hair Peace Charities, raised about $5,000 (net) from about 130 guests who attended Saturday's event at Sewickley's Sweetwater Center for the Arts. The money will be used to buy $100 vouchers that cancer patients can redeem at participating wig shops -- hopefully helping them regain some sense of normalcy during a stressful, chaotic time. (See www.post-gazette.com/pg/06047/655854.stm for a full story on the fund-raising effort. Call 412-364-3613 or e-mail bdiver1@verizon.net to make a contribution.)

Diver-Hall was as great a party hostess as she was a party planner, emceeing with aplomb and encouraging everyone to relax and have a great time. And about 30 volunteers from her church, the Ingomar United Methodist Church, took care of every detail, making sure guests got to enjoy one heck of a party.

Twelve "celebrity chefs," including "World's Youngest Chef" Justin Miller, 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates World Series Champion pitcher Jim Rooker, Rose Somma Tennent of "America's Morning Show with Quinn and Rose" on FM News/Talk 104.7 and other assorted media types (including me!) had prepared their favorite dishes for guests to sample. In one corner of the room, Bob Cuccaro, wine consultant from the Cranberry state liquor store, assembled samples of his shop's wines for everyone to taste. In another, a violinist and a pianist got guests relaxed and having fun, then jazz singer Donna Bailey and finally the rocking Tara Charles Band found their groove.

Diver-Hall dimmed the lights, Mr. Cuccaro and two other volunteers poured wine, celebrity chefs and still more volunteers passed out appetizers, and pretty soon the room was abuzz with happy chatter as guest after guest streamed through the front door.

As the evening progressed, lots of people wanted to know how to make the delicious dishes they were tasting, so it made perfect sense to collect them here in the Post-Gazette. Some recipes are for hors d'oeuvres, others for main dishes or desserts. Some are simple, while others are decadent. But they are all easy and low-stress enough to make for a crowd -- after all, we were producing samples for 200 guests -- so they'll all work well for your next party, big or small.


This Asian-inspired appetizer, with its tropical notes of coconut milk, lime, ginger and basil, is simple to put together, doubles easily and can be made in advance to cut down on hassle during your festivities. You can either hand each guest a shrimp-filled skewer, or remove shrimp and serve individually if you prefer. If the weather is nice, grill the skewered shrimp outside while sipping a frosty beverage. If it's a blustery day, the marinated shrimp will cook just as nicely in a low-sided skillet on the stovetop.


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil (Thai preferred, but regular Italian basil is fine)
  • 1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 20 large shrimp, deveined and peeled except for tails (when possible)
  • 4 bamboo skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes, drained

Peanut sauce:

  • 1/4 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)

For peanut sauce: Puree all ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. (Can be prepared up to a day ahead, covered and refrigerated overnight. Should be at room temperature for serving.)

For shrimp: Blend all ingredients but shrimp and skewers in a blender or food processor. Transfer marinade to a deep bowl. Add shrimp and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours, turning occasionally. Thread 5 shrimp onto each of 4 skewers. Grill until just cooked through, about 3 minutes each side or until flesh is translucent inside and pink outside. Alternately, sear over medium-high heat in a low-sided skillet, 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Serve shrimp with peanut sauce.

Serves 4.

Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup corn flake crumbs
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) chili sauce
  • 1 can (16 ounces) jellied cranberry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make meatballs: Combine all ingredients in large bowl; shape into 1-inch balls. Place in single layer in two 9- by 13-inch baking dishes.

To make sauce: Mix all ingredients in medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth and well blended; pour evenly over meatballs. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve hot.

Makes about 60 meatballs.


  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and minced
  • 3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 pound frozen lobster pieces
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup butter
  • 6 ounces fontinella cheese, grated
  • 6 ounces of gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 5 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • 10-ounce box of frozen spinach
  • 46 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 9-ounce box Barilla oven-bake lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese

For sauce: Put olive oil in a fry pan on medium heat. Add onions and cook 4 minutes, then add garlic and cook until onions are soft and transparent.

Keep garlic moving so it doesn't burn. Add tomatoes, lobster and wine and bring to boil.

Reduce heat and add butter, gorgonzola and fontinella cheeses, herbs and half-and-half. Squeeze a fresh lemon into the mixture, keeping seeds out. Stir and simmer until smooth.

For filling: In a large bowl combine spinach and ricotta and parmesan cheeses, eggs, parsley, and salt and pepper.

To assemble: Pour enough sauce to cover the bottom of a large baking pan. Layer noodles on the sauce, then cover them with the ricotta/spinach mixture. Pour enough sauce over mixture to cover. Continue until pan is filled with layers of noodles, sauce and ricotta/spinach mix.

Top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees, covered. Take out of oven and let sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 to 12.

Cindy and Doug Oster,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


  • One 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts (drained and chopped)
  • One small can of green chiles (drained)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of real mayonnaise
  • Loaf of Italian or French bread

Combine first five ingredients, cut bread lengthwise and spread mixture on bread. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. Should be slightly brown when done. Cut into squares. One loaf of Italian bread should make 35 to 40 squares.

Beth Bershok, WLTJ


Spinach balls:

  • 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1 cup herb-seasoned stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Dash Tabasco sauce

Mix all spinach ball ingredients together in a large bowl. Roll into 1 1/2-inch balls. Freeze for 15 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, until light golden-brown.

Combine sauce ingredients in a blender or processor. Blend well.

Makes 2 dozen.

Megan Slater, K-Rock, from "The Heart of Pittsburgh


Here's a recipe for a hearty soup that's easy to make and tastes great on cold winter days. It's a little spicy and has a creamy texture.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 5 cups pumpkin (either canned, or cooked and pureed fresh pumpkin)
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter (any type, we use "natural" style and skim off and discard the oil)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
  • 2 cups evaporated skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Saute onion and garlic in oil until transparent. In a large pot, combine pumpkin and peanut butter with broth (or water) and add sauteed onion and garlic. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Lower heat to simmer, and add milk, curry paste, nutmeg and cinnamon. Continue to simmer until heated through, stirring frequently. Serve alone or with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and/or sprinkled with chopped mint or parsley.

Serves 12 to 16.

Rikki and Larry Berger, "Saturday Light Brigade," WRCT, WSAJ


  • 1 can jumbo lump crab meat
  • 1/2 cup crumbled oyster crackers
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 egg

Mix all ingredients together, while trying to keep lumps in crab meat. Bake at 350 degrees on oil-sprayed baking sheet for about 15 minutes. Broil 1 minute to lightly brown top.

Jim Rooker
1979 Pittsburgh Pirates World Series Champion pitcher


  • 1 pound of Italian-brand spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 cloves fresh garlic, or to taste, crushed
  • 1 cup or more fresh, chopped basil, or to taste
  • 1/2 carton (or more) of cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quartered if large
  • 1/2 cup pecorino-Romano cheese, shredded

Cook spaghetti according to directions on package until al dente. When the spaghetti is three minutes away from being done, pour 2 tablespoons of oil into skillet and add crushed garlic. When garlic has browned you may remove (I usually just keep it in). Add fresh chopped basil and the chopped tomatoes and stir.

When pasta is done, drain it, add it to the skillet and stir until mixed (one minute or less). Put half the cheese in a serving bowl, then add spaghetti and tomatoes to bowl. Toss again and top with remaining cheese as needed.

Jessica Walliser, KDKA Radio


  • 3 tubs whipped cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping tablespoon flour
  • 1 box vanilla wafers
  • 1 can cherry or blueberry filling
  • Aluminum foil or paper cups for muffin baking tin (I prefer the foil cups)

Mix all ingredients except wafers, pie fillings and foil cups in blender. Place foil/paper cups in a muffin tin.

Place 1 vanilla wafer into each foil or paper cup. Scoop mixture from blender onto top of wafer (fill about halfway -- they rise).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool and top with pie filling.

Justin Miller,
"Cooking With Justin"


  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick oleo or margarine
  • 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 3 cups bread crumbs (approximately 5 slices, crust stripped off)
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows

Beat eggs and add sugar and soft oleo or margarine. Add can of pineapple and bread crumbs. Add one cup of miniature marshmallows. Put in greased baking casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Tracey Morgan, Y108

Food editor Amy McConnell Schaarsmith can be reached at aschaarsmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1760.


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